Recently I’ve taken a liking to Jelly Belly™ jelly beans. By “taken a liking” I mean “I eat the damned things all day long.” What’s not to like? They’re delicious, fat free*, and look really cool in a glass jar. Like all good things, however, my Jelly Belly™ addiction has a downside, and I think you can guess what it is.

Black jelly beans.

I can’t eat them. I can barely bring myself to look at them. I don’t know who decided that the ghastly flavor of black licorice would make a tasty snack, but he** was obviously a mentally unstable individual. But my problem doesn’t lie with the jelly beans themselves. They’re easily picked out, easily avoided. No, my problem is this: what do I do with them?

I can’t throw them away. Years of “clean your plate, there are children starving in [insert country here]” brainwashing renders me incapable of wasting food. I save every scrap of uneaten supper, stash it away in the fridge, and every four or five days toss it together in a concoction I call Betcha Can’t Guess What’s In This™ Pie. Oddly enough, I’m the only one who eats it, the rest of my family inevitably opting for PB&J sandwiches. But I digress…

I thought about donating them to the local food cupboard, but that won’t work, either. First of all, there’s the sanitation issue. I’ve handled each one of these grody beans, and although I frequently wash my hands, there’s no guarantee they’ll arrive at the shelter germ-free. And how do you go about sterilizing a bunch of jelly beans? I don’t think it can be done. More importantly, though, is what I call the “Muffin Stump” dilema. If black jelly beans aren’t good enough for me, then why would I force them onto those less fortunate than me?

My third option is to use the frigging things in some sort of arts-and-crafts project. Slice ’em in half, hot glue ’em to a popcycle stick picture frame, and you’ve got yourself a great gift. Except…I’m not eight years old.

And so, my black jelly beans sit–dejected and alone–in a small paper bag on top of my fridge. It’s like confectionary segregation, and that brings me great shame. Any ideas?

In the meantime, check out Chapter 2 of Waiting for Spring at Readers and Writers Blog, along with the latest installments of The Unearthing and Ginny Good.

* I don’t know this for a fact, but it sounds good.
** I refuse to believe a woman had anything to do with it.

Cure for writer’s block: get a haircut* and get a real job.

Last week a friend of mine, who is the assistant manager at the convenience store down the road, visited me, begging me to go to work for her. Two nights a week, the overnight shift. Apparently they’re pretty desperate for employees who aren’t afraid of mops and don’t think “free” cigarettes are a benefit of punching the timeclock. Since free coffee–on and off the clock–is a benefit, along with a discount on heating oil next winter, I said, “Sure, sign me up.”

This is the second smartest thing I’ve ever done. An unadvertised benefit of working graveyard shift at a small town convenience store: an unending supply of fodder for fiction. Not to make light of misery, but drunk, stoned, lonely people will say and do pretty much anything, and between the hours 11pm-1am (the hour at which Mainers can no longer buy Allen’s Coffee Brandy), the store is full of them. And once my cleaning and stocking is done, I have about 4 hours of nothing-to-do. Since my muse is most active in the middle of the night, and with no internet to distract me, I’ve been getting lots of writing done on book number four.

Inspiration or exploitation? You tell me.

*haircut optional